In rare instances, an ovary can become twisted around its supportive tissues. Known as ovarian torsion, this painful condition is considered a medical emergency and must be treated quickly. Women who experience sudden and severe abdominal pain should seek medical attention right away. When properly treated, ovarian torsion does not have an impact on the ability to conceive. Pacific Fertility Center has two offices in greater Los Angeles, CA, and Dr. Vicken Sahakian is equipped to treat this rare complication of in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Ovarian Torsion Symptoms
Symptoms of ovarian torsion include:
- Sudden and severe pain in the lower abdomen
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea or vomiting
Severe abdominal pain is the primary symptom of this condition. In some cases, lower abdominal discomfort may be intermittent over a period of several weeks. This is usually due to the ovary trying to untwist into the correct position. Ovarian torsion should be treated quickly because prolonged blood loss can cause ovary death.
What Causes Ovarian Torsion?
Ovarian torsion typically occurs when there is some kind of ovarian instability. Masses on the ovary, for example, make the organ disproportionate and vulnerable to torsion. However, it is important to understand that ovarian torsion is relatively rare. Studies have shown that it accounts for less than three percent of gynecologic complaints.
The risk factors for this condition include:
- Undergoing fertility treatment, such as IVF
- Having polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Having undergone tubal ligation
- Having a long ovarian ligament
- Being pregnant
If any of these factors apply to you, it pays to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian torsion and to take fast action if you believe you are experiencing complications of any kind.
If you are experiencing symptoms of ovarian torsion, we can perform a pelvic exam to assess pain. We can also conduct a transvaginal ultrasound to view your reproductive tract. Additional tests may be performed to rule out the conditions that have symptoms similar to ovarian torsion, such as a urinary tract infection or appendicitis.
These methods can help make a preliminary diagnosis, but a definitive diagnosis is often only possible during surgery.
Ovarian torsion should be treated quickly because prolonged blood loss can cause ovary death.
Ovarian torsion is usually treated with laparoscopic surgery. During this minimally invasive procedure, a small incision is made at the abdomen. A laparoscope (an instrument with a small lighted camera at the end) is inserted. The laparoscope transmits images onto a screen, which guides the surgeon in addressing the torsion. Patients are usually discharged the same day. With prompt treatment, ovarian torsion does not compromise the ability to conceive.
If treatment is delayed and lack of blood flow has caused tissue death, your doctor will need to remove the ovary. An oophorectomy (ovary removal) is usually performed laparoscopically.
Contact Us Today
Call our nearest office location if you are experiencing symptoms of ovarian torsion. If you are experiencing pronounced symptoms after our office hours, you should seek emergency medical care.